UAE company nears end of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine trial

People wearing protective face masks use their mobiles as they wait for vaccine trials at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 6, 2020. Picture taken October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Khushnum Bhandari. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
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Updated 08 October 2020

UAE company nears end of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine trial

  • The vaccine has been administered to more than 31,000 people in the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan

ABU DHABI: A United Arab Emirates company is nearing the end of Phase III clinical trials of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine and hopes to manufacture it next year, a representative said.
The trial, which began in mid-July, is a partnership between Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 (G42).
The vaccine uses an inactivated virus; a well-known technology which has been used against diseases such as influenza and measles. Two doses are given.
It has been administered to more than 31,000 people in the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan, G42 Healthcare CEO Ashish Koshy said.
Results analysis and publication will happen in around two months, Koshy said.
He said G42 has distribution and manufacturing agreements with Sinopharm and hopes to provide the UAE and other regional states with the vaccine, especially those that participated in the trial.
The target is to produce between 75 and 100 million doses next year in the UAE, he said.
“Early results are showing it is safe, there is a general rise in antibodies for all the volunteers,” Koshy said. “In terms of being effective it is on the journey, but only time will tell in terms of the whole picture.”
Emirati volunteer Wo’oud Al-Motawaa was vaccinated around two months ago and returned to the facility in the emirate of Abu Dhabi for one of her follow-up checks.
“I work in a hospital so it was something that we want to help with,” she said. “We trust our country.”
G42 has said the UAE population’s diversity was an asset, offering around 200 different nationalities. Koshy said around 125 nationalities had participated so far.
The UAE, whose tally stands at more than 101,000 infections and 435 deaths, has seen the number of daily new coronavirus cases surge over the past two months from 164 on Aug. 3 to a high of 1,231 cases last week.
The UAE has a high per capita rate of COVID-19 tests, having carried out more than 10 million tests in a population of around 9.9 million, the government statistics authority says.

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Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

Updated 11 min 50 sec ago

Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

  • The health minister said Lebanon “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas

BEIRUT: Lebanon is from Monday to gradually ease restrictions imposed two weeks ago after a surge in coronavirus infections, in a bid to relieve its struggling economy in time for the festive season, officials said.
Acting health minister Hamad Hassan told reporters the country “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas and end of year holidays.
He said restaurants will reopen at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited, while an overnight curfew will start from 11 p.m. instead of 5pm.
Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online, Hassan said after a meeting of Lebanon’s coronavirus task force.
He warned that the “danger” of a rise in infections still exists and that the hoped-for results to stem the virus thanks to the curbs would not be known for several days.
Before the two-week restrictions went into force in mid-November, bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was between 80 and 90 percent while “now it stands at 65-70 percent,” Hassan said.
Since February, the country has recorded more than 125,000 Covid-19 cases, including around 1,000 deaths.
Lebanon, with a population of around six million, had been recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week before mid-November, according to the health ministry.
A first country-wide lockdown imposed in March was effective in stemming the spread of the virus, before restrictions were gradually lifted as summer beckoned people outdoors.
But the number of cases surged following a monstrous blast at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded at least 6,500 and overwhelmed hospitals.
The blast and the pandemic have exacerbated tensions in the Mediterranean country which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.